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WIll Quentin Tarantino Ever Make Another Film After Canceling The Movie Critic? FSalinks


  • Quentin Tarantino’s detailed creative process and dedication to his craft make him a unique and meticulous filmmaker.
  • The cancelation of
    The Movie Critic
    suggests Tarantino may be more comfortable in literature than film at this point.
  • While the fear of making a lackluster final film lingers, Tarantino’s newfound pursuits in writing and podcasting hint at a potential shift in his career focus.

“Leave them wanting more, and you know they’ll call you back.” The lyrical quote is attributed to soul singer Bobby Womack. Those words clearly resonate with Quentin Tarantino, a longtime fan of Womack’s music – who used Womack’s song “Across 110th Street” as the keynote of his film Jackie Brown. Despite an innate talent for story craft and the ability to conjure decades-old genres with his fingertips while creating new composite genres of his own – Quentin Tarantino still shouldn’t be considered a prolific director.

Like many movie auteurs – Stanley Kubrick, Hal Ashby, Sofia Coppola – Tarantino spends years in development on a single movie, garnering the creative control to nurture his films and never release them prematurely. Such was the case with his latest effort, The Movie Critic, which was years into script development before Tarantino decided to scrap at least the film version of a story that was thought to amalgamate his career.

Along the way, Tarantino had billed The Movie Critic as his 10th and final film. Having such a confident artist suddenly cancel his plans for what would be his swan song gives insight into his basic philosophy about directors’ careers. With no other announcement of an upcoming Tarantino feature from either Sony Pictures (distributor of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) or the director himself, there is a reasonable (if unlikely) outcome wherein Tarantino never makes another film.

Tarantino Has Found a New Creative Outlet as an Author

When the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated Hollywood players to seek new creative pursuits from the confines of home, Tarantino switched gears seamlessly – from filmmaking to film critique and a novelization of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Reading Tarantino’s debut novel, it became clear he enjoyed storytelling without the restraints of movie runtimes and commercial expectations. Within the sprawl of a 400-page novel, Tarantino went deep into stuntman Cliff Booth’s origin stories, including Booth’s escape from a Filipino POW camp and subsequent life in France and how he came to know his beloved Pit Bull, Brandy.

He released the novel in the summer of 2021, as life was beginning to return to normal, deciding, then, to continue work as an author – this time a non-fictional analysis of the grindhouse, blaxploitation, and New Hollywood films that inspired his filmmaking career, during his childhood. The result was Cinema Speculation, a book that combined film critique with a critique of the era’s notable film critics, like The New Yorker columnist Pauline Kael.


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Besides being a page-turner for any cinephile, the book did something no author ever truly had – it set up a dialectic between the opinions of bygone film critics with a generation-defining director in Tarantino. In the book, Tarantino delves deep into his primary critical antagonist, film columnist Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times – whom Tarantino finally was able to impress with Once Upon. It also extolls the virtues of Kevin Thomas, the LA Times’ then-junior critic whose work led Tarantino to many offbeat films that he might not have otherwise seen, like Malibu High.

Tarantino Drafted a Screenplay for The Movie Critic, Then Scrapped It

During and after Tarantino’s authoring of Cinema Speculation, he clearly had film critics on his mind, developing a narrative around a character who “used to write about movies for a porno rag.” Tarantino had worked as an usher at a Torrance, California porn theater at the tender age of 16, and the director was clearly intent on including personal history and ’70s film nostalgia in what he envisioned as his final film. Strangely, Tarantino did something he had only anecdotally done before – including the Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) character from Once Upon into a second film, with sources close to the director also speculating that The Movie Critic would include characters from other Tarantino films, as well.

Then came the April 17 announcement that Tarantino was canceling The Movie Critic, with a flood of speculation as to why. Was he tiring of the casting process, which at times was rumored to include Tom Cruise and would have to fit around major stars’ schedules? Was he simply exhausted by the Once Upon narrative universe, through which he had already made a film and novel? Was he caving to the pressure of trying to make his ultimate film into… his ultimate film? Only Tarantino knows for sure.

Tarantino Intimates His Fear of Making a Poor Final Film

Quentin Tarantino is not a director who would typically be described as tentative – once sharing in an interview, “I trust myself as a writer. I trust my process.” Still, it seems that the specter of a lackluster final film has shaken that self-confidence somewhat. Speaking on the inherent nature of final films, Tarantino intimated on the Pure Cinema podcast that “most directors have horrible last movies… to end [a career] with a good movie is kind of phenomenal.” Tarantino went on to lament directors like Billy Wilder making poor final films, in Wilder’s case, the stinker Buddy Buddy that couldn’t even be saved by the oft-hilarious comic pairing of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.


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Now that Tarantino has scuttled The Movie Critic, it is easy to speculate that he may, at 61 years old, be more comfortable in the medium of literature than film. Now five years removed from Once Upon, Tarantino is also past his self-imposed ultimatum of retiring from directing films by age 60. While his enormous talent and the critical and commercial success of Once Upon make his retirement before a 10th film seem unlikely, for him to scrap The Movie Critic so far into script development shows that he may currently be tentative, indeed. Tarantino once admitted to another instance of trepidation, saying in an interview with Ara, Death Proof didn’t do well at the box office, wasn’t well-received, and that was a bit of a shock to my confidence.”

Could Writing and Podcasting Supplant Filmmaking for Tarantino?

While the track record of a successful director following through on a retirement declaration mid-career is spotty at best (see: Steven Soderbergh’s early 2010s ‘retirement’), Tarantino is much more precious about his work – never crossing over into TV and rarely adapting other writers’ work. With Tarantino hitting the reset button after The Movie Critic, which may still come to life as a book or have story elements repurposed for a different film, Tarantino is likely still years away from releasing his next movie. If he feels age is a determining factor for artistic relevance, that could put him well past the point where he feels capable of doing his best work.

What is wonderful about Tarantino’s second life as a writer and frequent podcast guest is how it has demonstrated his transparency as a creative thinker. Never one to mince words, Tarantino even admitted on the Pure Cinema podcast that if podcasts had been around when he was young, he might never have gotten into directing.

He has delighted in picking apart films on The Rewatchables and Armchair Expert podcasts, and as the father of two young children, his priorities in life may have shifted into a new phase – with the arduous and time-consuming process of making his next-level films, perhaps, less appetizing than ever before. Only time will tell, and perhaps – like the Bobby Womack lyric – he’ll leave us wanting more. Stream Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on Hulu.

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